By Dr, David Podell
President of MassBay Community College
FRAMINGHAM – The MetroWest region of Massachusetts is a burgeoning community, buoyed by our talented workers, educators, restauranteurs, artists, and entrepreneurs. Part of the strength of this region is our ability to forge strong partnerships with one another. There are many examples of regional initiatives that develop widespread and beneficial goals, and that aspire to greater and broader
prosperity for ourselves and our neighbors. When it comes to collective strength and leadership, MetroWest leads the Commonwealth.
Most people are familiar with MassBay Community College and Framingham State University as the two public colleges that serve the MetroWest region. However, some may be unaware of the many ways the two colleges come together as partners to maximize their impact on our community. Both colleges share the belief that, working closely together, they can benefit the people of MetroWest to a much greater extent than each working alone.
There are many good examples of the partnership. Framingham State offers many outstanding programs into which MassBay students often transfer. Of course, this is the traditional relationship between neighboring community colleges and state universities. But the
MassBay/Framingham State partnership goes far beyond.
For example, as a community college MassBay has no residence halls. Framingham State, however, does offer students housing.
Since 2017, Framingham State has welcomed MassBay students who want to experience residence life while in college, and scores of MassBay students have taken advantage of this opportunity. Most of these residential MassBay students are international students or are coming to the area to study Automotive Technology, and the residential opportunity at Framingham State offers them a convenient, cost-effective option.
At a time when housing costs have soared past what the typical college student can afford, the residence option at Framingham State has proven to enable many MassBay students stay enrolled. Although the housing option was suspended during the pandemic, it will be available for MassBay students again in the near future.
Another joint program serves students who are experiencing homelessness. Two years ago, Governor Charlie Baker announced a program in which, each year, the Commonwealth funds student housing at Framingham State for two MassBay Community College students who are
homeless. The colleges’ ability to partner with state government has begun to help students who are homeless achieve their education and get their lives on track.
Another powerful example of the MassBay-Framingham State partnership is the MetroWest College Planning Collaborative (CPC), co-funded by the two colleges. The CPC works with students before college to get them oriented toward and prepared for post-secondary education.
Working in high schools and middle schools, the CPC focuses on students who might not otherwise go to college to help them understand the importance of planning for college and the value of attending college. Students who are from low-income families, underserved groups, or are first generation college goers participate in activities and work closely with academic coaches. They explore college pathways and career options, and learn what they need to do to succeed in college. Many students attend early college classes while still in high school, which gives them exposure to college-level coursework and allows them to enter college with some coursework already completed.
The CPC is a model program that has achieved great success, having sent hundreds of area students to both MassBay and Framingham State, as well as to other colleges over the years.
The “RN to BS in Nursing” Program is another strong collaborative program between MassBay and Framingham State. This program aims to streamline the process for students to earn their bachelor’s degree in a field that is experiencing a large shortfall in qualified professionals.
Students who have become Registered Nurses by earning their Associate’s Degree in Nursing at MassBay gain automatic admission to the Framingham State Bachelor of Nursing program, as long as they have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and
received their RN license from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This seamless pathway provides MassBay Nursing students with a practical, affordable method of attaining their Bachelor’s degree, which will gain them better salaries and more job choices in a growing
profession that needs qualified workers.
The close partnership between the two institutions has also resulted in an exciting new development in Framingham.
This September, shovels will go into the ground at the Framingham State parking lot that sits at the intersection of Franklin St. and Mt. Wayte Avenue for a new MassBay Center for Health Science, Early Childhood, and Human Services. The 68,500 square foot Center will open in fall 2023 and will be a central hub for education, skills training, community partnerships, and economic development. The proximity to the Framingham State campus will allow the two colleges to share use of not just the parking lot, but also specialized equipment in the Center with the promise of untold opportunities for new partnerships.
Another outstanding example of the partnership between the two public colleges in MetroWest is MassBay and Framingham State being selected to take part in a new Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI) that is designed to increase transfer rates from 2-year to 4-year colleges for African American, Hispanic, adult, and first-generation learners.
Funded by the ECMC Foundation and Ascendium Education Group, the two-year ETI funds institutions to align pathways and increase transfer and completion rates for underrepresented students. The goal of the ETI is to serve 6,000 students from identified underrepresented groups over the two-year project period. Framingham State and MassBay represent one of just 16 partnerships chosen to
take part in the nationwide initiative.
The partnership between the two schools has been developed over decades. With new development and new projects, there is no telling what innovative collaborations will be forthcoming. And while the future for the partnership is very bright, it is clear that it has been
very much advanced by the forward thinking of President Javier Cevallos of Framingham State, who recently announced his retirement in summer of 2022. His vision and leadership profoundly affected MetroWest in several ways, not least of which was his advocacy for the partnership of Framingham State, not only with MassBay, but with other educational institutions in the region.
His successor will have an outstanding model to follow.
David Podell, Ph.D., was appointed as the seventh President of MassBay Community College in 2016. MassBay Community College is the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest Boston, offering a robust portfolio of courses and more than 70 associate degree and certificate programs with flexible day, evening, and weekend classes in Ashland, Framingham, Wellesley Hills, and online. MassBay students receive an unmatched educational value by earning stackable credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs, and workforce-ready skills necessary to advance careers in high-demand fields such as health and life sciences, automotive technology, engineering, business, cybersecurity, and the humanities. MassBay’s Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) and Practical Nursing (LPN) programs were both ranked as the #1 Nursing Program in Massachusetts in 2020-2021 by national nursing advocacy organizations RegisteredNursing.org, and PracticalNursing.org. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and remains firmly committed to its mission of meeting the needs of the diverse local communities it serves. We value the intrinsic worth of all individuals, collectively in pursuit of inclusiveness and prioritize our work towards achieving equity within our community and beyond.
Editor’s Note: SOURCE and the MetroWest Chamber have formed a partnership. The Chamber’s column will run on Tuesdays on the digital news media outlet. This week’s column is written by Chamber Board member David Podell, who is president of MassBay Community College.